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Two new mutant coronavirus variants first identified in India found in England

Five cases of one variant and 202 of the other confirmed by Public Health England

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 29 April 2021 21:48 BST
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Coronavirus in numbers

Two new mutant coronavirus variants first identified in India have now been found in the UK.

The variants are B.1.617.2, with 202 cases, and B.1.617.3, with five, which have been detected in England. The case numbers relate to data available up to 27 April.

Both variants have been designated as “variants under investigation” rather than “variants of concern”.

It takes the total number of variants under investigation in the UK to nine, while there are also four variants of concern.

PHE said there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe disease or make the current vaccines any less effective.

The public health body said it has been monitoring the variants since March and has increased lab testing “to better understand the impact of the mutations on the behaviour of the virus”.

There are four variants of concern and nine variants under investigation which have been identified in the UK.

The new cases come as India's total Covid-19 cases passed 18 million on Thursday after another world record number of daily infections.

The country reported 379,257 new infections and 3,645 new deaths, according to health ministry data – the highest number of fatalities in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

A ban on people travelling from India to the UK came into force on 23 April, in an effort to prevent further variants of coronavirus from entering the country.

At the Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, health secretary Matt Hancock said concern around the impact new variants could have on the UK vaccine programme was behind the policy decisions on tight border controls.

In the UK, the government confirmed a further 22 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, taking the Covid death toll to 127,502.

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